Last Drop circular walk

After most of the month being cloudy and grey with a fair bit of rain we had a few days of sunshine last week so on one of the days I took Snowy and Poppie on the first really good walk of the year. At first I was reluctant to take the camera as it’s a walk I’ve done many times before and featured on here more than once but the day was too nice not to take it.
A short 7-minute drive from home took me to the Last Drop Village and leaving the van in the rear car park I set off across the adjacent fields, with the moorland of Winter Hill in the distance ahead of me. I expected a lot of the ground to be wet and muddy but a few recent very frosty nights and cold days made sure most of it was frozen and dry. The track at the far side of the fields took me through an area of scrubland to the traffic-free lane bypassing the old quarry; at one time I enjoyed wandering round the quarry and would often see rabbits scampering about in the sunshine but now it’s really overgrown and has an oppressive feel to it. Even the once pretty little pond on the top level is so overgrown and choked with weed that the one photo I took was immediately deleted.
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At the end of the lane I turned right along the path running between farmland and the fenced-off forested rear edge of the quarry; if I was going to encounter any wet and muddy patches that’s where I would find them as the narrow drainage ditch running between the path and the fields often overflows in wet weather but again everything was dry. A left turn at the end of the path took me up the side of the first field to the gate onto the golf course and not far along the track I was rewarded with the sight of a small clump of early flowering bright yellow gorse, while further along the iced-over pond looked like it needed some work to clear all the overgrown reeds.
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Just past the pond three golfers pushed their trolleys up a track on the left to the green at the top of the slope and out of sight on my right the sound of a small tractor indicated that some work was being undertaken somewhere. Following the track downhill I eventually came to the fence and gate separating the golf course from open grazing land and I was just about to open the gate when my eye was caught by a movement a distance ahead. Two deer were running across the field but before I could even lift up the camera they had disappeared into the trees at the far side.
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Across the fields a second gate and a cattle grid took me over a small brook to the lane leading across the castellated railway bridge to the grounds of Turton Tower. The bridge was built in 1847 following the construction of the Bolton to Blackburn railway line; James Kay, who owned the tower and it’s grounds at the time, commissioned two footbridges across the line, specifying that they had to be medieval in style to be in keeping with the rest of the estate, and while the second bridge is just a normal footbridge this one incorporates a viewing tower.
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At the far side of the bridge a path took me through the nearby woods where I wandered along to the formal garden and lawn then round to the front of the building. Back on the lane it was just a couple of hundred yards to the main road then almost a mile-and-a-half of road walking to get back to the Last Drop Village.
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Not actually a true village the Last Drop was originally converted from a group of derelict 17th century farm buildings known as Orrell Fold, belonging to successive generations of the Orrell family who once lived at Turton Tower. In 1930 William Carr, a well known farmer and racehorse owner who lived locally, bought the farm for stabling and exercising his horses but over the years the unoccupied buildings gradually fell into disrepair and eventually in 1963 the farm and its land were sold.
The new owner, Carlton Walker, was a man of considerable foresight and he soon began the task of creating the Last Drop Village out of the derelict buildings. The first building to be completed in 1964 was the restaurant and during a celebratory meal Mr Walker’s friends offered him ‘the last drop’ of a bottle of wine, and it was that which gave the place its name. The village today is home to a hotel, spa and leisure suite, banqueting suites and conference rooms, a quaint tea shop, the Drop Inn, several independent small shops and a gallery, and it’s also a very popular wedding venue.
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With the sunshine just taking the edge off the coldness of the day and the bonus of seeing the deer running through the fields it had been a very enjoyable walk, now it was time to head for home and an appointment with a mug of coffee.

Angel of the Meadow – a Manchester mystery

I first found out about the Angel of the Meadow when I was researching the history of Manchester’s old Angel Meadow area and though at the time I only read the story briefly I was intrigued enough to want to find out more about this modern-day mystery.
On January 25th 2010, while clearing the site of a former car park prior to the construction of the Co-operative Group’s new headquarters close to Angel Meadow park, excavation workers discovered the skeletal remains of a female wrapped in sections of blue carpet and squeezed into a gap between a fence and a wall. The police were called to the scene and the site was immediately cordoned off while they conducted their initial investigations and removed the remains.
Angel meadow car park
Photo – Manchester Evening News
A postmortem concluded that the woman would probably have been Caucasian, 18-35 years old, between 5ft 1ins and 5ft 7ins tall and a size 12. She had a number of dental fillings and a missing upper right tooth which would have been obvious in life when she smiled. She had also suffered a fractured neck, collarbone, nose and jaw, pointing to having been beaten to death, with the date of her death being identified as sometime in the 1970s or early 1980s.
Found near the body were a pair of tights, a black stiletto court shoe, an empty handbag and a torn green pinafore dress with a distinctive 1970s pattern. She had been wearing a blue bra and a blue skinny-rib jumper, a style popular in the 1970s, but naked from the waist down she had probably been sexually assaulted; the absence of the other shoe and her underwear led investigators to conclude that her killer could have taken them as ‘trophies’. One of the carpet pieces which had covered the body featured a hole cut for a gear stick and was thought by police to have been taken from a Ford Cortina car.
Carpet pieces
Photo – Greater Manchester Police press office
Pinafore dress
Photo – Greater Manchester Police press office
A search of missing persons records and an initial appeal to the public in the hope that someone would recognise the items recovered with the body came to nothing, then in May 2011 a team of experts from Dundee University used facial mapping techniques to reconstruct the woman’s probable features, with the reconstruction featuring on an episode of BBC 1’s Crimewatch on the 24th of that month. She was given the name ‘Angel of the Meadow’ as it was in a part of the old Angel Meadow area where she was found. DNA analysis done that same year to try to establish whether the woman was a victim of either of two killers who were known to be active at the time showed that there was no connection.
Facial reconstruction
Forensic facial reconstruction developed by a Dundee University team led by Dr. Caroline Wilkinson
In November 2012, following input from the public, the police announced they had compiled a list of 22 potential identities for the victim. Leads were investigated from Ireland and as far afield as the Netherlands, Texas and Africa but none of them produced any positive results though detectives did rule out over 400 missing women as being her. In March 2015 police confirmed that they had a DNA profile of the victim and were undertaking a familial DNA search as part of the investigation, now being conducted by the cold case unit. That same month, five years after her remains were discovered, she was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Manchester’s Southern Cemetery, in a state-paid service attended only by two detectives who had spent four years working on the still unsolved murder case.
Angel-of-the-Meadow wreath
Photo – Manchester Evening News
Twelve years on from when she was first found this young woman’s identity remains a mystery which asks more questions than it answers, questions which detectives working on the case have no doubt asked themselves numerous times, and though her murder may still be unsolved her death hasn’t been in vain – through their investigations detectives managed to trace six women listed in the missing persons records and all were reunited with their families.
The original case hasn’t been closed though, nor has ‘Angel’ been forgotten. Othram, an American corporation specializing in forensic genealogy to resolve unsolved murders and cold cases, recently helped to fund a proper headstone to be installed on the grave in her memory.
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The 2021 headstone – Photo credit, David Mittelman, CEO Othram Inc.
Somewhere out there, even after so many years, there may still be a family member or a friend who will know who this young lady was so it’s hoped that one day the headstone can be updated with her real name. Until then she will forever remain the Angel of the Meadow.

Manchester street art – January 2022

Eight weeks after my last daytime wander round Manchester’s Northern Quarter, two days ago I made my first visit of this year to see what was new in the world of street art. Initially following my usual well-trodden route from Victoria Station my first stop was Salmon Street but the three walls often used for advertising had all been painted white or plain grey, obviously waiting for some new artwork. In Edge Street the picture of a real fox in the window of Yard & Coop chicken restaurant had been replaced by a cartoon-type fox, then round in Thomas Street the hoardings surrounding a vacant plot of land had some new funky artwork and an excellent portrait by an artist I haven’t come across in Manchester before.
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Artist – Olivierr
The hoardings on the other side of the vacant plot had some new stuff with one mural obviously being left over from Christmas, and in a corner I found a shutter with some cleverly done artwork looking like different layers of paper which had been partially torn off. Just off Stevenson Square was a business premises with some funky window decorations (in truth they’ve been there quite a while, I just haven’t photographed them before now) and round the corner I found one of Liam Bononi’s distinctive artworks which I know is definitely new. Unfortunately the bottom of it was marred by a pile of very full bin bags but I managed to get most of it in the shot.
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Artist – Liam Bononi
In spite of the dull morning Stevenson Square was looking very colourful with its recent makeover. The Christmas-themed artworks had been replaced with funky patterns and bright colours though I was glad to see that the procession of cute dogs, with a change of background, was still running along the wall of the old public toilet block in the centre of the square.
Stevenson Square on a dull Sunday morning
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Away from the square my feet took me through the streets towards the canal and I ended up at the far side of Piccadilly Basin where I came across an artwork I wouldn’t otherwise have found. Property investor TCS, owners of several office and residential developments around the basin, commissioned the artwork last year to enhance the up-and-coming area and it was created by four well known Manchester artists including Qubek and Tank Petrol. Inspired by the flora and fauna around the Rochdale Canal the four artists were given an open brief to use their own creative flair and the mural was completed in four days.
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Back in the NQ proper I continued my wander and down a narrow back alley I discovered two exotic looking young ladies, one either side of a shuttered up narrow doorway. They had obviously been there for some time but they were still good enough to take a photo of. On the side wall of a hot dog shack and bar was a hot dog with big boots and a toothy grin and across the street a rather ambiguous design on a shutter. I couldn’t make out what it was supposed to be but I liked it as it’s red, my favourite colour.
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Finally, the main reason for my visit to Manchester. Before Christmas I’d found out that Qubek had put a Christmas-themed artwork on a shutter in Hilton Street; it looked so cute I just had to get a photo of it but up to now haven’t had the opportunity so I was just hoping that it hadn’t been painted over. I was in luck, it was still there, but unfortunately workmen had put some barriers in front of it so I couldn’t get the full shot, however one of the workmen was nearby so I asked very nicely and he moved a couple of the barriers to one side momentarily so I could get an uninterrupted shot of the main part of it.
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According to the artist it’s a chihuahua ”spaced out on tequila and magic mushrooms taking itself for a walk through time and space”. It’s a shame I couldn’t get the whole artwork in one shot and it probably won’t be there when I go to Manchester again, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it is and there are no barriers in front of it to spoil the shot.

North Wales mini break – Day 3

After the rain of the previous day the last day of my break turned out to be beautifully sunny though also very windy. I had to be off my pitch by 11am so the first dog walk was just a fairly short one close to the site, meaning I could have breakfast and get ready for the homeward journey without rushing. Handing in my barrier pass at reception and ready for the road my first stop was down the hill for a good walk along the path near the beach. A few wisps of grey cloud were still hanging about from early on but with blue sky and sunshine the area did look nicer than the previous early morning.
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My next stop was another visit to Eileen; I’d left my phone in the van while I was out walking and when I got back I found a message from her to say that she and hubby had gone to the harbour with Tilly so I decided to go straight there to see if I could find them. On my way I made a brief stop to take another photo of the friendly neighbourhood giraffe wearing his new and very tall Christmas hat – I’d taken a photo two days previously but somehow it got sunlight reflection on it. When I got to his garden however I found that his hat had been blown off in the wind and he was left with just a stick sticking out of his head, so Eileen has very kindly sent me the photo she took herself a few days before Christmas.
Before the wind
After the wind
Round at the harbour I parked up near the Harbour Hub cafe and took a walk along the boardwalk and dunes of Horton’s Nose nature reserve, one of the last sand dune systems on the North Wales coast. I didn’t see anything of Eileen, her hubby and Tilly so thought I may have missed them but as I headed back to the van I found them in the car park. It was agreed that we should go across to the cafe and instead of coffee we had hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows, accompanied by bacon rolls. In spite of it being the middle of winter and the wind still blowing it was really quite warm so it was very pleasant sitting in the sunshine at one of the outside tables and chatting over our snack lunch, but all too soon it was time for me to say goodbye and hit the road.
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My third and final stop was Talacre Beach along the coast and close to the mouth of the Dee estuary. From the A548 a long lane took me past fields and a mixture of private bungalows and static caravan parks, then towards the end I came to a couple of amusement arcades, a walk-round ‘sells everything’ general store, a chip shop, small bakery, ice cream parlour, bar/restaurant, a small cafe and the Lighthouse Inn, with the end of the lane itself leading to a footpath through the dunes.
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Leaving the van in the car park near the Lighthouse Inn I set off on the trek through the dunes and across the beach to the Point of Ayr lighthouse. Built in 1776 to the design of Joseph Turner of Hawarden and modelled on a pre-existing Liverpool Docks Board light at Hoylake it was constructed to mark the entrance to the Dee estuary following the loss of two Dublin packet boats and more than 200 lives. Trinity House assumed responsibility for the light in 1819 and soon afterwards rebuilt the upper section with a new lantern light.
The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1844 after a piled structure was built further round the estuary. In 1882, following the grounding of a steamship which had just started a voyage from Mostyn, further along the estuary, to Barrow-in-Furness with a cargo of iron and coal, it was alleged in court that this second lighthouse was situated too far inland so in 1883 it was replaced by a lightship moored in the estuary though this has long since disappeared.
The original lighthouse has a slight lean but in spite of being in such an exposed location it has withstood countless storms over the years. In November 1973 it became Grade ll listed and was restored in the 1990s, then in 2011 it featured in the background of a tv advert for Dulux paint which was designed to mark the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of their Old English Sheepdog mascot, although as I’m not familiar with the advert I fail to see the significance.
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With no more en route stops and no delays on the motorways the rest of my journey home in the sunshine was uneventful and I arrived back before the daylight faded. In spite of the cloud and rain it had been good to get away for a couple of days and also to experience a new-to-me camp site, and as the old year turned into the new one I already had a few ideas for another North Wales break in the not-too-distant future.

North Wales mini break – Day 2

After a very comfortable and quiet night I woke the following morning to grey clouds which were gradually being replaced by blue skies and the promise of a nice day. The first dog walk of the day was to be an exploration of the nearby beach; from the site entrance it was just a 3-minute walk down the hill but if there was any sand at all it was completely covered by the high tide which came right up to the sea defences. Two rough surfaced car parks were situated between the sea defences and the North Wales Coast Path and the River Dulas came from somewhere inland and ran parallel to the path for a distance before curving round and emptying itself into the sea. Admittedly this wasn’t the prettiest of places but it did give us a good dog walk before we went back to the site for breakfast.
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Across the bay – Rhos-on-Sea in the sunshine
My main aim of the day was a visit to Conwy, somewhere I hadn’t been for a few years, though I was stopping off at Rhos-on-Sea on the way. Now although I left the site in brilliant sunshine the same couldn’t be said for arriving in Rhos – less than six miles along the coast the sun had almost disappeared and the sky was clouding over rapidly. Leaving the van in a roadside parking place on West Promenade I walked along the seafront, passing Combermere Gardens and the harbour and making my turn around point the tiny St. Trillo’s Chapel on the lower promenade at Marine Drive.
Combermere Gardens is a small but attractive raised paved area overlooking the sea and incorporating a few benches and planted flower beds. In Victorian times, before the promenade linking Rhos-on-Sea to Colwyn Bay was constructed, this site was the grounds of a house known as Combermere Lodge, sometimes referred to as Combermere Cottage. The house was demolished in the early 1900s as a result of either constructing or widening that section of the promenade and the owners of the nearby Cayley Arms Hotel made a contribution towards the cost of demolishing the other buildings between there and the sea, presumably to improve the hotel’s own view.
In 1909 suggestions were made in the local press as to the best use for the site of the demolished Combermere Lodge. Some locals wanted it used for public conveniences, some for public gardens, and there was also an application made to the council to rent the land for a ‘café chantant’ which would have provided refreshments, musical entertainments, dancing and lights at night. Although this had a lot of support it also had a lot of objections and the idea was eventually abandoned.
It’s unclear what decisions were taken at the time but underground public conveniences were erected at some point, along with a basic bandstand with a small canopy, and the site was given the official name of Combermere Square, though by the advent of the Second World War the local nickname had become ‘Lavatory Square’. These public conveniences were demolished sometime after the war and curved enclosing walls with coloured glass inserts were erected around the square. These in turn were demolished in the 1990s and the current attractive raised gardens and seating were built in their place giving good views across the bay.
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Barely 7ft tall at its apex and seating just six people the tiny St. Trillo’s Chapel is thought to be the smallest church in the British Isles. It was named after St. Trillo, a 6th century saint who built his cell there, though having been heavily repaired several times over the centuries its true age is unknown. St. Trillo’s original cell was probably made of wood and wattle although he may have built a wall of stones gathered from the beach to protect the structure from winds. His decision to build his cell on that particular spot would probably have been influenced by a natural spring which provided him with drinking water; the chapel was later built around the well and for centuries this well supplied the water for baptisms across the extensive medieval parish of Llandrillo. It also had a long tradition of being a healing well and it can still be seen in front of and below the altar.
A locked wrought iron gate across the chapel entrance stopped me from going inside but the place was so small I had no difficulty in taking a couple of shots through the bars. There was a very pretty Christmas wreath attached to the gate and on the surrounding wall was a pretty Christmas plant and a collection of painted pebbles and stones left in memory of various loved ones. The chapel is still used for an Anglican Eucharist every Wednesday and though I admit to not being particularly religious, with no-one around just then it was nice to sit on the bench and spend a few minutes in quiet contemplation.
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Walking back along the promenade I came across Rhos-on-Sea’s very own version of ‘street art’, a Welsh dragon painted on the garden wall of the Cayley Flyer pub/restaurant. The pub, formerly the Cayley Arms but renamed after refurbishment in 2017, was named after the Cayley family who were once prominent landowners in the area, and several other local place names mark this influence including the Cayley Promenade with its distinctive steep grass bank on the landward side of the road.
One member of the family, Sir George Cayley, was an eminent inventor and in 1853, fifty years before the Wright brothers, he designed and built a flying machine which could carry the weight of a man. This glider, the “Cayley Flier”, flew for about 275 metres across Brompton Dale in Yorkshire before crash-landing. Sir George, who was 80 years old at the time, hadn’t wanted to risk flying the plane himself so he had ordered his coachman, John Daley, to fly it for him – after the alarming experience of the crash-landing the coachman promptly resigned. This was the first recorded flight in history in a fixed-wing aircraft and it paved the way for the Wright brothers first powered flight in 1903, though the brothers did acknowledge Sir George Cayley as being the true inventor of the aeroplane.
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I’d just got past the Cayley Flyer when it started to rain, just spits and spots at first but becoming heavier after a few minutes. With no umbrella and quite a distance still to walk to the van I dodged into a promenade shelter in the hope that the rain would soon stop, and that’s where I made what must be the silliest find of the year – left on the bench in the shelter was a bag of Tesco potatoes.
It was a bit of a mystery where they had come from as there is no Tesco in Rhos, and even though I sat in the shelter for a while no-one came to claim them. With no ‘best before’ date on the bag there was no way of knowing how long they could have been there but they looked okay so when I finally made my way back to the van I took them with me; I didn’t want them for myself but I knew someone who might be able to use them. Unfortunately it seems that when they were opened they had a funny smell so they were relegated to the bin, but it’s still a mystery as to how, when or why they came to be left in that shelter in Rhos-on-Sea.
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With no sign of any improvement in the weather it crossed my mind to go back to the camp site but there was a shop in Conwy which I particularly wanted to visit so I continued with my day out, driving round to Conwy and finding a space in a car park on the edge of the town centre. The shop I wanted to go to is featured on the Quest tv programme Salvage Hunters and I’d been in there not long after it first opened a few years ago. It would be nice to have another look round but I was destined to be disappointed as not only was the place now ‘by appointment only’ it was also closed for the Christmas and New Year period, though I did manage to get a couple of photos looking through the windows.
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Having window-shopped my way round the town, which didn’t take long as it isn’t a big place, I went to take some photos near the castle. Unfortunately the suspension bridge, designed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1826, was closed with railings and a locked gate barring my way; in the care of the National Trust it’s been open to pedestrians only for many years but it seems that every time I’ve been to Conwy it’s been closed so I’ve never yet managed to walk across it.

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Across the road and down on the quayside a handful of fishing boats were moored up and several jumbles of fishing baskets were piled here and there. Most were heaped in a somewhat haphazard fashion but one lot of rectangular baskets had been stacked neatly in a way similar to building a brick wall and they provided me with quite a colourful abstract-type shot.
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Further along the quay was the Smallest House in Great Britain, originally created in the 16th century to fill a gap between two previously built rows of cottages. With the side wall of each end cottage and the back wall being part of the town wall’s central tower an enterprising builder realised all that was needed to create another house was the front wall and a roof. Over the years the house was home to many different people including a painter, a widow, a master mariner and his wife, a coachman and a fisherman and in 1891 it was bought for £20 by Robert Jones, a land owner who lived further along the quay. A copy of the conveyance hangs on a wall in the house, showing that for that price he not only bought the house but also acquired a sitting tenant with it, another Robert Jones. Robert Jones (the tenant) was 6ft 3ins tall but somehow continued to live in the Smallest House until 1900 when the local Corporation inspector declared it and the cottages to the left of it unfit for habitation.
Unhappy about the potential loss of rental income from the Smallest House Robert Jones (the owner) and his friend Roger Dawson, editor of the North Wales Weekly News, took a tour of the UK to measure other small houses in an effort to declare the Conwy house the smallest in Great Britain and thus save it from being demolished. Having established that it was indeed the smallest the Corporation agreed that it could be saved from demolition and opened instead as a tourist attraction. The Guinness Book of Records confirmed its status as the Smallest House in Great Britain in the early 1920s.
Measuring just 6ft across, 10ft deep and 10ft 2ins high the house has a single cramped bedroom upstairs and a downstairs living area with a water tap, an open coal fire and very basic cooking facilities. It has remained in the ownership of Robert Jones’ family ever since Jones himself bought it and is currently owned by his great, great granddaughter. It’s open to visitors daily from early spring until late autumn, with a lady in Welsh national dress standing outside, but due to structural instability the upstairs can only be viewed from a step ladder.
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While I’d been looking round the shops earlier on I’d also been looking for a cafe where I could get a coffee and a simple snack but most places didn’t seem to offer what I was looking for, however I did find one where I would be able to get a toasted sandwich. It wasn’t to be though as no sooner had I got through the door than I was told rather abruptly by the young woman behind the counter “Sorry, we’re full!” even though there were several empty tables in evidence. So after photographing the Smallest House I got fish and peas from a nearby chippy and took them back to the van.
As I was on my way back there I came across a window display which somehow I’d missed before. It was the most adorable nativity scene made up of felt mice and a few other little animals, so cute that I just had to take a photo looking through the glass. That was my last shot of the day and after demolishing my fish and peas, which were very good, I set off back to the camp site.
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It was unfortunate that the promising sunshine of the morning had been replaced by grey clouds and rain but I’d still enjoyed my day even though my photos at Conwy had to be taken from under the shelter of my umbrella – and seeing the mouse nativity scene just ended my day out nicely.

North Wales mini break – Day 1

With almost two weeks off work and nothing to do in the week between Christmas and New Year the morning of Wednesday December 29th saw me heading down to North Wales on an impromptu and hastily arranged 2-night break at a new-to-me camp site not far from Abergele. The weather was atrocious when I left home, that fine but heavy rain which really wets you, and the spray from other vehicles on the motorway was dreadful. At one point I did question my own sanity in doing this but by the time I’d got a couple of miles past the turn-off for Manchester airport the rain had stopped and the sky was doing its best to brighten up.
Undecided whether to head straight down the A55 or turn off along the A548 coast road I opted for the second choice when I noticed some patches of pale blue sky appearing over to the west. The A548 crosses over the River Dee via the Flintshire Bridge which was officially opened in 1998; it cost £55m to construct, is 965ft long and 387ft high, and is Britain’s largest asymmetric cable-stayed bridge. It would give me a few good photos but there was nowhere for me to safely stop so I was only able to get one shot quickly snapped through the van’s front windscreen.
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Unfortunately the patches of blue sky which had initially looked so promising had amounted to nothing and it was still very dull and grey when I made a short stop at Greenfield Dock on the River Dee estuary. It was a shame the tide was out as it’s quite an attractive little place, especially when there’s blue sky and sunshine. Now incorporated into a section of the North Wales Coast Path the dock itself was constructed in the early 1700s on the site of a natural harbour and was used to import raw materials to and export goods from the nearby (now non-existent) Greenfield Valley mills which processed copper and cotton.
Raw copper from Parys Mountain on Anglesey was unloaded at the dock and sent to the mills where it was turned into cups, pots and manilas – lead coated copper armbands which were highly prized in West Africa and were the currency of slave dealers. The copper goods were shipped round to Liverpool and the slave ships took the manilas to West Africa where they were exchanged for slaves who were then taken to America to work on the cotton plantations in exchange for bales of raw cotton. These were then brought back to Liverpool and shipped round to Greenfield Dock for spinning at Greenfield Valley’s cotton mills, thus completing the infamous ‘Triangular Trade’ which was eventually abolished by the Slave Trade Act in 1807.
During the early 19th century ferry services were introduced to Greenfield Dock. Ferries sailed to and from Liverpool and the Wirral and the dock became an important passenger terminal for pilgrims visiting the nearby St. Winefride’s Well, however freight and passenger business eventually declined when the Chester-Holyhead railway line was opened in 1848. Fast forward to more modern times and in a collaboration between Coastal Rangers and local fishermen the dock was restored and reopened in 2010; now more than 40 commercial fishermen work on the Dee estuary, cockle fishing in the summer and landing seasonal catches of bass, flounder and shrimp throughout the year.
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”The Lookout” – sculptor, Mike Owens
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The second stop on my way to the camp site was a surprise visit to friend Eileen. When I visited in October she had known about it beforehand but this time she didn’t so I was taking a chance that she and her hubby would be in. Luckily they were and I spent a lovely couple of hours with them and Tilly the Cockapoo before it was time to head off to the camp site.
Now to call this place a ‘camp site’ is rather a misnomer – it’s a 5-star holiday park, doesn’t accept tents and is way over my normal budget, but trying to find somewhere open at this time of year in the right place and with availability at short notice had been like looking for the proverbial needle in the equally proverbial haystack. My options had been limited but this site ticked all the boxes in many ways; I could live with the expensive cost just for a couple of nights so my large mpv became a ‘small campervan’ and I’d booked a serviced pitch for a 2-night stay.
Booking in at reception I was given a site map and a barrier pass then a very helpful young lady showed me to my pitch, which turned out to be in a small section of the lower part of the site and directly overlooking the sea, and with only one unoccupied caravan in the corner I had that section to myself. Living in the van meant that things had to be kept to a minimum so it didn’t take long to get sorted out and after a quick dog walk round the site I was soon settled in for the evening.
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The only downside to the site was the railway line to Holyhead running below it and the very busy A55 running behind it, but train noise was virtually non-existent and once I was settled in the van I couldn’t hear any traffic noise at all. After a very grey start to the day the sun had appeared at lunch time and the rest of the afternoon had been lovely so I kept my fingers metaphorically crossed that the next couple of days would be just as nice.

Looking back – 2021

Another year has drawn to a close and it’s time for me to look back on some of the things which have featured in my life and on this blog over the last twelve months, though in some ways 2021 has been rather an uneventful year so this time I’m concentrating more on the places I’ve been to.
The beginning of January brought just enough snow to make things look pretty and my first walk of the year gave me the sighting of a heron at the hidden lake in the grounds of Smithills Hall and the llamas at the nearby open farm. More snow fell later in the month and during a walk through a local quarry and fields not far from home I was drenched from head to foot in a wave of slushy snow and water when a 4 x 4 driver deliberately drove at speed through a huge puddle at the side of the road. Only a mile from home I could quite easily have gone back to get changed but I decided to carry on and the climb up through the quarry and brisk walk through the fields stopped me from getting cold.
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Early February brought a couple more light overnight snow falls and the 9th was the first anniversary of losing sweet little Sophie so in her memory I took the dogs for a snowy walk round the Belmont area, a walk which Sophie had done with me several times over the years. In one of the fields I met a sheep with extremely curly horns and found that the Blue Lake was almost completely frozen over with ice and snow. The following day I took a walk round the Jumbles Reservoir and got some more lovely snowy photos.
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Early March saw me making two visits to a reservoir which, although fairly local, is in the middle of nowhere and too far to walk from home. The first visit failed however as the traffic and parking situation was a nightmare and after an hour and twenty minutes without ever getting out of the van I ended up right back where I’d started from, at my own front gate. The second visit was much more successful though and I had a lovely walk round the reservoir where I found much of the south side looking more open after the felling of quite a lot of trees. Also that month I made three visits to Manchester and on each occasion came back with a whole host of street art photos.
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Early April saw me seemingly being inundated with chocolate. On the spur of the moment Michael bought me two bars of white chocolate from the corner shop, his girlfriend sent me a lovely bunch of flowers and some chocolates and I won a pack of Cadbury’s creme eggs in an online Easter competition. Later that month I had a ridiculous conversation with Michael when he couldn’t think whether that particular day was Wednesday or Thursday and only a week later I had almost the same conversation with the boss’s son at work when he couldn’t remember if the day was Wednesday or Thursday. As well as local walks with the dogs I also made another two trips to Manchester and made a spring revisit to Corporation Park in Blackburn.
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Early May was blighted by a fair amount of cloud and rain so there were no trips out and local walks were kept to a minimum. Another couple of photography trips to Manchester were made and when the weather came nice later in the month I got some lovely colorful shots of different shrubs and trees in various gardens which I passed on one of my walks with Snowy and Poppie.

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The Manchester Flower Show was held in lovely weather during the first week of June and I made two trips to find and photograph the many floral displays and installations situated in various locations around the city centre. Also that month I discovered the delightful area of the Castlefield Basin where the Rochdale Canal and Bridgewater Canal meet and I was lucky enough to see the Castlefield Goslings who commute between the canal basin and the streets at the other side of Deansgate, taking their lives in their webbed feet by crossing the extremely busy main road. It beats me how they haven’t been squashed but traffic does seem to stop for them. 

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The highlight of July was my 10-day holiday in the Lake District, and though it started with a sore foot, a fault with the tent, a leaky loo and a swollen arm all four problems were soon resolved and with mainly good weather I went on to have a lovely time away. During the ten days I went to the delightful little village of Caldbeck, met up with blogging friend Jayne who took me on a lovely walk round Ravenglass, visited the Lake District wildlife Park and discovered several new-to-me places including Harrington harbour.

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August was the month when Michael and I twice went for a curry meal at a local pub/restaurant and each time there was something missing from our order. The first time the mango chutney was missing so was substituted with mint yogurt, then the second time there was no mango chutney, no mint yogurt and no rice so we ended up with chips instead. Luckily we both saw the funny side of it and assumed that the lack of some foods was caused by various disruptions in the supply chain at the time. During the bank holiday weekend I had a nice walk along a section of the Lancaster Canal at Hest Bank, a place I’d never been to before, and also visited Arnside and Jenny Brown’s Point near Silverdale, then the following day went to Morecambe.

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The middle Sunday of September was the start of my second 10-day Lake District holiday and though the first couple of days were grey and cloudy the weather came good and I was able to revisit some places I’d previously been to and explore others which I hadn’t, including Workington harbour, Bowness-on-Solway and Port Carlisle. I also walked by Bassenthwaite Lake and climbed Latrigg Fell the hard way (almost vertically) when the path ran out due to a large area of trees being felled, but it was worth the effort as the views from the top were fabulous. The highlight of the holiday though was without a doubt my visit to Ennerdale Water which offered fabulous views and gave me lots of great photos. The 25th of the month was Snowy’s first anniversary, a full year since she came to live in my little family at the age of 8 months.

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October was very wet for most of the month but a break in the weather late on saw me going down to North Wales for a 2-night mini camping break and to make a long overdue visit to Eileen, a special blogging friend. During the weekend I met Eileen’s new little dog Tilly, and visited Flint Castle, Rhuddlan Castle and the oddly-named Horton’s Nose nature reserve at the mouth of the River Clwyd.

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November for the most part was another rainy month when dog walking was kept to the local avenues or just the back garden if it was really bad but a couple of days of nice weather in the middle of the month gave me the opportunity to have a walk round Rivington Gardens to catch the remains of any autumn colours. Also that month I took the 25-minute train journey to Blackburn to see the Knife Angel, a 27ft tall sculpture made up of over 100,000 knives.
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Early December was cold but dry and a lovely sunny day saw me taking the dogs on a local walk round Smithills Hall and through nearby woodlands and fields, then the week before Christmas I made my last visit of the year to Manchester, a late afternoon/early evening one to photograph the light sculptures in the city centre. To round off the year, just four days ago I made an impromptu spur-of-the-moment short trip to North Wales, staying at a new-to-me camp site and also visiting Eileen again. I only got back home late afternoon yesterday so it will be a while before details and photos appear on here. 

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So there you have it, some of the highlights of my year. All that remains now is to welcome any recent new readers to my blog and thank everyone for visiting and leaving comments; if it wasn’t for my readers there wouldn’t be a blog, so I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year – have a good one!